A boutique hotel set in a pre-war shophouse in Chinatown
Founded in the late 1850s at the confluence of two rivers by tin-mining prospectors, Malaysia’s capital is most recognisable today by its iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Look beyond them, though, and you’ll see that Kuala Lumpur is a city that clings to its heritage as much as it sheds it. It runs on tradition and nostalgia even as it pulses closely with fresh energy from global trends. The city’s quaint kampung houses and faded colonial buildings complement its gleaming high-rises with mosques, churches and temples in close proximity. Its generations-old hawker stalls hustle alongside trendy new cafés. And at the heart of it all are the people who call the city home – mostly local Malays, Chinese and Indians, but also immigrants from Europe, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal and the Philippines. Travellers tend to stay in the city centre where the main sights are, but there’s a growing crop of creative dining and drinking venues in other neighbourhoods that are worth a visit too.
When to go:
Any time is a good time. It’s generally hot and humid all year round in Kuala Lumpur, with occasional rains. But rainy spells don’t last long here, and there’s always somewhere you can duck in to escape and wait it out.
How to get around:
You can buy a KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus pass to visit Kuala Lumpur’s main tourist attractions, or ride the free Go KL buses along four different routes. For other parts of the city, the LRT and MRT trains and RapidKL buses are available at most locations. As for ride-hailing apps, download Grab.
A luxurious heritage hotel enhanced with Art Deco styling
Alila Hotels & Resorts has adapted the ethos of its destination resorts to Kuala Lumpur’s city setting
A vibrant hotel within Kuala Lumpur's 'Golden Triangle'
One of a collection of Sekeping urban retreats around Malaysia, designed by local landscape architect Ng Seksan
The claimed birthplace chilli pan mee back in the 80s
A local stalwart serving up nasi lemak, a Malaysian favourite
This artisan bakery in a green neighbourhood is a great spot to grab a cup of coffee
Dewakan champions the use of local ingredients to create a new kind of Malaysian cuisine
This mom-and-pop restaurant serving Indian vegetarian food in Bangsar is a great spot for breakfast
An upscale bar serving fine cocktails at Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
An eclectic tiki-style bar inspired by Old Malaya
A pioneer of the speakeasy bar movement in Kuala Lumpur
A specialty gin joint that specialises in cocktails with unique local flavours
A craft beer bar with an impressive array of brews on tap
Built in 1998, this is Southeast Asia’s largest museum of Islamic art
Here's where to check out Kuala Lumpur's lively independent music and spoken word scene
An oasis of green within Kuala Lumpur's city centre
Within downtown Kuala Lumpur lies this reminder of traditional life
Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown neighbourhood is the perfect place for a morning stroll
This charming gift shop specialises in women’s clothing and accessories
This bespoke tailoring business has clothed celebrities including Muhammad Ali
The award-winning Khoon Hooi is a household name in luxury women's fashion
A modern Malaysian label that features striking monochrome designs
Nala Designs feature patterns inspired by Malaysia’s cultural heritage